JIS News

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says efforts are being made to resuscitate Kingston’s tourism product which, he said, was severely damaged by last week’s violence in West Kingston.
Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Bartlett lamented that Kingston had lost business “badly”. He pointed out that occupancies in a number of hotels were “very weak”, declining as much as 50 per cent. Additionally, forward bookings were not looking “good” and there was need to do “some serious work” on Kingston.
To this end, the Minister said that Director of Tourism, John Lynch, met with hoteliers in Kingston on Monday (May 31), to explain that a plan of action was being formulated to resuscitate the city’s product.
He said that they were working together to put packages and programmes together, to promote events that would bring people in to enjoy the glories of Kingston again, and to feel a sense of safety.
Among the events being targeted for positioning in this regard are Reggae SumFest and the ATI Independence Weekend Party series, as well as a “few others” on the drawing board, details of which will disclosed, shortly.
He noted that the religious community also has a number of faith-based tourism activities, and there were a number of meetings and conventions that have been proposed.
“Some have already been pretty firmed up. One or two others, I think, we are struggling with, because they have thoughts of cancellation and/or re-arrangement,” the Minister said, expressing the hope that they will come on stream.
These efforts form part of an eight-nine month US$10 million promotional blitz, which the Tourism Ministry and Jamaica Tourism Board (JTB) will spearhead, locally and in the North American and United Kingdom markets, in a bid to prevent the country losing a projected US$350 million in earnings from the industry, consequent on last week’s events in West Kingston.
“The whole point is that, we are going to go through a very delicate period and the nervousness that is (currently) in the marketplace, the fear factor, (is) pretty much the same. that drove the recession of 2008/09,” Mr. Bartlett stated.
He said that what this means is that it is going to be a full engagement for the next eight to nine months, in order to cauterize the whole insecurity in the market, and to drive a feeling that the destination is alive and kicking and, more importantly, is safe.
Mr. Bartlett was, however, quick to point out that in order for these initiatives to yield success, the country has to “settle the issues in the western end of the city.”

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